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I was just pondering the design of the Treasure token as a mechanic and wondering why its text is "Tap, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color."

Couldn't it just be "Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color." instead? What constraint or value does the tap requirement add other than adding slightly more text to all the cards that have explainer text for what a Treasure token is?

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    This seems like it is essentially answered by boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/48543/…. In particular, check the comments on the answer to that question.
    – murgatroid99
    Jun 4, 2023 at 8:16
  • @murgatroid99 Agree it's answered in the comment, but comments are ethereal and we shouldn't rely on them existing in the future ;) Jun 4, 2023 at 8:58

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It's to prevent "double tapping" the token for two mana when used in conjunction with other abilities, most notably Improvise but also things like Urza, Lord High Artificer. Without the tap constraint on the Treasure, you can tap the treasure for one mana with Improvise and then sacrifice it for another mana.

Gold tokens do exist without the tap requirement, but R&D found them to be too powerful:

The Gold tokens were problematic with the improvise mechanic from Aether Revolt, so we had to add a tap and change the token’s name.

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    Same reasons why fetches need to be tapped. So you don't get two mana out of them with urborg tomb of yawgmoth.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 4, 2023 at 13:25
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    Are there not also cards that could cause them to enter the game tapped which would prevent them from being used?
    – Joe W
    Jun 4, 2023 at 14:35
  • @JoeW There are, going at least as far back as 4th Edition and getting reprinted occasionally. But I don't believe that working around those interactions was considered problematic. Jun 4, 2023 at 14:45
  • Right, things that cause it to enter the battlefield tapped and prevent it from untapping can be worked around but they can also prevent someone from using them if they don't account for that in the design.
    – Joe W
    Jun 4, 2023 at 15:14
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    @JoeW Yes, there are effects that can make all artifacts come into play tapped; the design team has also been recently making cards that deliberately create tapped treasure tokens as a way to lower their power level (and lessen the possibility of a degenerate combo). Some recent examples include Gala Greeters, Blood Money, and Ognis, the Dragon's Lash.
    – BradC
    Jun 5, 2023 at 14:03

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